There are some pretty amazing products for all our children’s little ailments. Some of them come with a pretty amazing price tag too! But much of the same ingredients being used in natural remedies are actually available at the local health food store — and for a fraction of the cost. Stock your pantries with some healthy and effective herbs, and you’ll be ready to serve up concoctions that will address all their common complaints.
Snotty, Coughy Colds
Be ready for those colds lurking around by stocking kitchen cupboards with herbal expectorants, demulcents, and decongestants. When it comes to coughs, the two prize winners in my own cupboard are the deliciously-sweet licorice root and the powerful mullein (which isn’t even remotely close to being sweet, but it is one heck of a cold-fighter). They’re both expectorants and demulcents, so they’re able to make coughs more effective while also providing raw throats with a soothing coating of mucilage. And if you catch the cold early enough, you can make a cold-blasting tea by pairing them with an antiviral herb like elderberry, ginger, or Pau d’Arco.
For runny noses, I turn to the decongestant powers of peppermint. A cup of tea can be sipped or gargled to loosen up phlegm and open up nasal passages, but the real winner is peppermint essential oil. When it comes to stuffy noses and sleepless nights, this essential oil is like a magical potion. Rub a drop or two onto your kiddo’s chest with a carrier oil and they’ll be able to breathe throughout the night (if sensitive skin is a concern, give them the bene’s of minty vapors by applying a drop on their jammies, head, bedspread, or the soles of their feet). If you want relief on the go or need nighttime cough support, try making your very own herbal throat drops. Simply combine boiled sugar or honey with a strong herbal brew and you can soothe those coughs, scratchy throats, and runny noses in an instant (and if you don’t have a candy mold, then try this easy fix using powdered sugar or corn starch).
There’s a whole list of rashes with various symptoms and causes. Determining the factor responsible for provoking angry skin can be hit and miss, but if it involves an allergic reaction or red, itchy, irritated patches then we can offer a dose of relief by combining lavender and chamomile essential oil with the healing powers of aloe vera. All three help to reduce inflammation and they even possess antibacterial and antiviral properties. Both lavender and chamomile are gentle remedies that can be used even on sensitive skin, but if there’s any worry over reactions then the benefits can always be absorbed by the soles of the feet.
If you don’t have essential oils laying around or your pinching pennies, then turn to the basics of almost any kitchen cupboard. A washcloth soaked in gentle chamomile tea can be applied to troubled spots to reduce irritation. Even the everyday oatmeal can be put to work by making a simple itch-relieving poultice with hot water.
Aches & Pains
Stomachaches are a common complaint for my little ones. It’s usually just gas from burritos or a pizza binge that can be easily addressed with a belly rub, but there are times when their aches can’t be alleviated with a good toot. These times call for the benefits of peppermint essential oil yet again! This bottle of minty magic offers enormous relief with indigestion and gas — so much so, peppermint’s used to treat IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). And thanks to its muscle-relaxing properties as an antispasmodic, it can alleviate stomach pains and soften tense muscles.
I’ve always had pretty good sleepers, but some of my friends have had children go through phases of sleeplessness because of anxieties or recurring nightmares. After some restless nights, they figured out that the best remedy was some quality time with mom and a warm cup of tea. Mom’s can make their very own kid-friendly sleep teausing the relaxing and sleep-inducing properties of chamomile, lemon balm, and valerian root. A nice mug of tea will warm them from the inside out and encourage their tension to fall away. Even if you go without sleepy herbs, just having a cup of tea every night before bed will help to establish a routine that will help cue their body into a more restful state.
If you have fresh herbs around, then a fancy little pillow or an old sock could be turned into a sleep sachet that can be slid into pillow slips. Sedative herbs like hops, chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm have a strong rep in the rest and relaxation department, and they make for a sweet-smelling sachet. They’re also available as quality essential oils which can be used to create soothing scented pillows and bedsheets or applied to the bottoms of their feet.
That sums up my favorite remedies for the most common ailments in our house. What are your favorite herbs and kid-friendly concoctions?
*Post written by: Ash Stevens
Ash Stevens is a mother, writer, and a wannabe shaman. She loves health, gardening, simplicity, culture, chocolate, and sarcasm. If she isn’t writing about family and relationships on her blog, then she’s surely playing badminton with the kids. Find her on Twitter or Facebook and make a new friend!
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